Bear Cannisters

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by Gary Jacek, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Gary Jacek

    Gary Jacek Paddler

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  2. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Smart little (big) suckers! :) You can't blame them for trying, and when they have success, for continuing!
     
  3. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Thanks, Gary - interesting reading.
    I thought it was a bit of a stretch for the authors to call it a 'barrel' failure when a bear came into the campsite during dinner preparation (when the barrel was open, naturally) and made off with the open barrel!
    The thing (well, one of many things, really... :) ) that mystifies me is the popularity (? they are still in business) of the Ursack. What's the point? Once my food is all chewed up and mixed with bear slobber, it would be a very very dire survival situation before I'd consider eating it!
     
  4. designer

    designer Paddler

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    It's too bad none of the canisters I have are waterproof - but I guess I could put a plastic garbage bag in one, then food in that, and roll it tight and seal it. In raccoon areas it is easier to leave the food in a critter proof container on the table rather than fiddle with tree hanging. One could say it will draw animals into camp but given these are established campsites, the animals come around anyway.

    I have the black tapered barrel one and the somewhat translucent squat/round ones. Instead of a dry bag and hanging food I could just use the canister -either with the "food" in camp (on picnic table) or leave it on the ground about the distance I would hang food.

    Also, in recognition that I'm always finding trash - dental floss, etc. - after the food (and accumulated trash) bag are hung up, I started using a firmly twist-on lid plastic container for debris that appears after the major bags have been hung. I used to keep it near camp but decided it was better to at least put it at the base of the tree where the food is hung - away from camp.

    So far I have only camped where I am still at the top of the food chain - almost. Once on Vargas Island I saw a wolf footprints where he/she walked on the path past the beach camp towards the pit toilet. I had food hung - but only 5 ft off the ground. It was mostly stuff in sealed pouches - no fresh food smells - and the wolf left it alone. It was my first "expedition" trip and I figured my "hang" was so pathetic that the wolf either took pity on me or had a good laugh and walked on. Or the wolves on Vargas - though wild - prefer to avoid human interaction.

    I had one, admittedly old, dry bag rip out on me when hanging food so I started using a small nylon/canvas duffle bag to hold the dry bag (duffle wasn't waterproof). I figured the seams on the dry bags were not designed to hold heavy loads suspended. But the one that tore was very old and I have never had a problem with the others. Of course now-a-days they make super light dry bags and I've seem places (James Island in the San Juans - I'm talking about you) where birds will attack hanging food bags and tear them open.
     
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  5. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    We were inspected every night, camping on Dick and Janes Beach on Vargas, ten years ago, by a solitary wolf. It left our food inside sealed hatches and 4 gallon mayo containers alone. A bear would have penetrated the latter with one swipe. My limited experience with wolves suggests they are curious about lots of things, and some will pursue food, just as a bear does.

    I have never understood relying on the canisters if they lie on the ground. Some of the reports indicate the bears will push them over cliffs or into deep gullies. Better to hang them.
     
  6. AM

    AM Paddler

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    This is an interesting discussion. Thankfully, BC Parks has installed metal caches in many popular areas (including Vargas). The question remains: what to do in areas where there is no such infrastructure?

    I used to trust to my kayak hatches, until the video surfaced of wolves removing Valley/KajakSport hatches on Vargas Island. On one of my recent west coast trips, my buddy and I kept our food in the hatches, then inverted the boats on logs, so that the hatches were resting on the wood. I think I would do this again.

    I'm actually more concerned about mice and raccoons, which is why I like keeping food in small plastic barrels (much like Designer above) if I'm going to hang them. The cooking shelters at Garibaldi Lake all have metal wires to hang your food bags from. In the morning you will find your suspended bag covered in mouse droppings, with holes chewed strategically.

    I love canoeing for the blue barrels. Not bear proof, but certainly eveything-else proof! And if you pile a few pots and pans on top, you have a decent anti-bear alarm system. I think I'll ask the folks on myccr.com about how they deal with food on their Barren Lands trips.

    Back in 2013, a small group of us were rounding Cape Scott. Early one morning in Nels Bight, we had a pack of wolves circle us as we lay sleeping in our tents. They send a scout into camp, who sniffed every tent and every kayak hatch. Nothing was touched. My tent was last in line, and just as he sniffed my vestibule, I stepped out and greeted him. Primate vs. canine - an ancient conflict. The matter was settled with a bear-banger.

    As we gathered outside our tents in the pre-dawn gloaming, we wondered what would have happened if we had let the pack work our boats over. Would they have torn the hatches off? Would they have moved on? I guess people have been dealing with that problem since the dawn of the species.

    Andrew
     
  7. designer

    designer Paddler

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    I wouldn't want to store anything in my boat that would encourage any animal (human, four footed, etc.) to investigate. Any hole in a boat (except cockpit or hatch openings) is not a good thing. I can fast for several days and probably be healthier for it. So I'd rather loose food than have damage to a boat. Admittedly, my "boat repair" kit is just a few feet of duct tape and repurposing my paddle float.

    I hesitate to move this tread to a little technology but I found portable motion sensor lights to be small and cheap ($10 or so and battery operated (9V or a couple of AA's). If I remember to bring some, I put one on the picnic table so if I hear noise I might see what it is and the light might discourage interlopers.

    In addition, I may put one by my hammock (oriented away from the tents, usually near the ground) so when I get up at night or return, there is a momentary light - they turn off after a minute or so. As a courtesy, I would leave one in the inside compost toilet shelter (like on Jones Island) so at night, there would be a light while in there moving around and it would go out when you leave. The light they cast is more useful than a flashlight beam.

    Aside from the visiting wolf - I believe that was the Dick and Jane beach on Vargas - the most "harmful" critter has been raccoon - and I'm talking about carrying off paddling booties and opening zippered food containers. Also, I've seen hanging bags (light weight nylon) torn apart by birds (James Island - San Juans). My barrels, either the heavy weight "Bear" type, or a powered supplement container turned into a twisted lidded trash container haven't yet been breached. But I've never been in "bear" areas - just raccoon, deer, and predatory birds.
     
  8. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    How in the world do bear canisters fit through tiny kayak hatches?? Or do you bungie them on the deck??
     
  9. designer

    designer Paddler

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    Paws, With "modern" kayaks that's a good question. The Mariner Kayaks were made without hatches - though some owners optioned to add a rear hatch (with Large opening) at the time of purchase or modified later by artisans like John Abercrombie.

    Under way, the dry bags would displace water if you were to tip over - so the kayak doesn't fill with water. For a day paddle, you can use a sea sock or put an inflatable in the bow and stern. Some dry bags are designed for that dual purpose.

    Without hatches, all the gear is entered through the cockpit, then slide forward and aft to the bow and stern. To aid it getting the gear all the way to the tip of the bow (start with smaller bags of course), there is a 4 inch "inspection" port you can put your arm in to push the bag forward. Note that unless you want to be a star in someone's Americas Funniest Home Videos, it is best not to put your arm in past your elbow joint - especially if everyone in your group is launching. Of course, what went in, will come out, but maybe not as gracefully.

    After a few times of having that first bag get stuck in the bow or stern, one learns to tie a tether cord to the first bag and run it back to the seat. Once on shore, pulling the cord starts the whole load sliding towards the cockpit. Or, if the load is pretty heavy, you can drag the first bags out and be assured you can get that last one way up on the bow (or back in the stern) without having to tip your boat vertical and find a place on the beach where gravity is stronger than usual.

    The short answer is, Mariners don't go through tiny kayak hatches, gear is entered through the cockpit and pushed (often with the aid of a paddle) to the bow or stern.

    AACleanBoat.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  10. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    You can actually put one BearVault 450 vertically into a smaller round hatch like the ones on your NDK/SKUK Pilgrim, as long as there's enough depth under the hatch cover.
    (Make sure it's in a sack so you can lift it back out! Remove the sack when the bear barrel is ashore.)
    With oval hatches like the Valley or SeaLect ones, it's easier. Easier still with the larger rear hatches like the Mariner factory hatches and the neoprene and hard lid hatches on many boats.
    Lots of boats can fit two bear barrels side by side in the rear compartment. (Having a 'day hatch' can remove that 2-barrel possibility...).
    Swedeform boats like the Mariners generally have a good wide stowage space right behind the cockpit.
    BTW, generally you don't want to put heavy things like food up in the front of the boat.
    The 'rule of thumb' is 2/3 of the gear weight aft, which usually translates into the food and water.
     
  11. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Paws, John's dissertation is pretty complete, and may be enough to get you going, provided the canister(s) can be rotated so they will lie against the hull once inside your boat. Trial and error with a couple canisters of differing diameters and/or length may be necessary.

    If you cannot fit any inside the front and rear compartments, you may be able to fit one forward of your feet, inside the cockpit, set against the forward bulkhead. I have used that space on a couple boats for bulky, awkward containers, anchoring them to the hull and/or deck using straps attached to D-rings. D-rings and straps ensure the canister cannot come loose. A loose canister underdecks may trap a foot in the event of a capsize. The D-rings are best held in place with glued-on PVC extrusions, as in the sequence of photos beginning at the link below showing a similar installation, but in a forward compartment, not the cockpit. Perhaps useful, maybe not.

    http://www.pbase.com/bartenderdave/image/127535286
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  12. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    With the round hatches in the boats I've tried, there hasn't been enough depth to allow the barrel to rotate inside the compartment. A BV 450 will fit vertically right at the hatch location - thus the caution about using a sack to allow retrieval - there's almost no clearance space. A spot needs to be left clear for the barrel to drop into.
    Really, in areas with trees, hanging the food makes more sense if your boat isn't big enough for barrels to work easily, IMO.
    Check out:
    https://packapull.com/
    It seems expensive until you check the prices of good dinghy-size blocks.
    It's a well-thought out design - sort of like mini yacht snatch blocks.
     
  13. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Like John, I prefer to hang my food up in dry bags, and have never lacked for tree limbs strong enough and high enough for hanging to work. On two-week-long trips, we run up two lines, for a group of four. Too much food to hang on one line. There is some technique involved, and "blocks," sometimes mis-termed pulleys, make for a much easier lift, owing to less friction. Hauling a line directly over a limb also can injure the tree.
     
  14. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Well, no immediate plans to paddle in bear territory, but always learning! :)
     
  15. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    There's a story about a guy back in the 80's that founded one of the paddling companies on the Lower Mainland- Jim something, big guy, Ecomarine maybe? Apparently to keep the bears away he used to bring a chunk of salami and hang it way up on a branch, way far from camp. "They'd snort and fart around that all night long and leave us alone". I remember the line well, just not the guy.

    edit: Jim Allan I think
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  16. designer

    designer Paddler

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    I toss one line over the branch (okay, maybe a few tosses to get it there) and I connect a pulley - oops, a block with one pulley - to it with a line through the block. The first line hauls the block up to the tree branch area and the line through the block, hauls the food. So there is very little weight on the line that moves over the branch during setup and take down. I seem to have more trouble finding something to tie the haul line too more than a suitable hanging branch - though I know I could just use the tree itself. If the trip is short enough to use a barrel for the food, that is much more convenient than the whole tree rigging exercise. Or I can split the food up and have enough in the critter proof container so I don't have to raise and lower the food bag every meal. But that doesn't mean I keep the food near the sleeping area. Just depends on the degree of "wildlife".